James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Steptoe Washington, 18 December 1800

From George Steptoe Washington

Hare Wood Decr. 18. 1800

Dear Sir

Since I had the pleasure of addressing you upon the subject of the Hessian fly1 I have met with a letter from a Gentleman of Deleware State to the president of the Philadelphia society for the promotion of agriculture. The facts mad⟨e⟩ known by this Gentle[m]an seem so to tally with the observations of my Neighbours & ’self that I refer you to his letter. In page 206 of Morses Geography of the Ud.-States; published in 1793 it will be found.2 He attaches to the character of the yellow bearded wheat, an entire immunity, from the destruction of this insect. This however is not the cas⟨e⟩ from the experience of this neighbourhood. ’Tho it is less liable, and doubt, not, from the causes he mentions; yet I saw many fields very much infected last spring. This kind of wheat admits of being sown very late, as late I believe as the 15th. of November; by removing the snow at any time through the winter, you find it to have a fine healthful & vigorous appearance. The quickness with which it grows, in the spring very soon puts it out of the way of the insect. I have been this fall peculiarly fortunate, in not having my grain, as far as has been discovered, infected. But ’tis remarkable, that the worse looking grain sown upon my plantation this fall is the yellow bearded wheat. My neighbours tell, and my experience upon other farms informs me that this is not an indication of an unpropitious result.

The visit you propose making us next spring has, even in prospect, given us very great pleasure. We most sincerely hope that your situation may be such as not to prevent it, as I am fearful that my affairs will not permit me to leave home. It will require fully one year of close attention to repair the damage occasioned by my military ⟨pilgrims?⟩. The Ladies have written to you ⟨by⟩ our brother J. P.3 After Presenting my affectionate remembrance to Dolly, believe me with sincerity Dear Sir your friend and Hu S.

George Washington

RC (ViU). Addressed by Washington to JM. Docketed by JM. Damaged by removal of seal and worn margins.

1Letter not found.

2The letter, dated 12 June 1792 and signed “C. H. W.” of Prospect Hill, Delaware, was written by Charles Henry Wharton, an Episcopal clergyman. Wharton observed that sowing yellow bearded wheat on rich soil was the only way to avoid the ravages of the Hessian fly (Jedidiah Morse, The American Universal Geography [2 vols.; Boston, 1793; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 25847], 1:206; Munroe, Federalist Delaware, p. 115 and n. 6).

3John C. Payne was Dolley Madison’s brother.

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